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tv   Discussion on President Lincolns Funeral Train  CSPAN  May 3, 2015 2:08pm-2:31pm EDT

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't forgive him in that sense, but i suppose in a whitman-esque type interpretation -- the terry alford book i think is very will done. does the new meals have any admiration or feelings of admiration and if you do, it is perfectly fine. you are allowed to say it. >> that is not what i was going to ask. recently, there was an op-ed page in the new york times about how lincoln was romanticized and was a martyr and both sides sort of shook hands and treated each other as gentlemen. but this repress the
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significance of the war and they said this led to reconstruction, the end of reconstruction. it builds up the southern myth that minimizes the significance of getting rid of slavery and paved the way for the terrible betrayal of the 13th and 14th amendments and the jim crow era which began to and in the 1950's. do you agree with that? david: what happens is lincoln from about 1876 onward becomes a marshmallow icon that can be consumed by whether you are a southern white supremacist or radical northerner, he becomes everybody's hero. in "birth of the nation" they
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say lincoln was the southpaw's best friend, but he was killed. it's a wonderful movie wonderful in the sense of being technically wonderful, but it is a horrible, racist movie. lincoln -- if we had only had abe lincoln around. he believes in colonizing the slaves abroad and all of that. he becomes absorbed very easily into jim crow and becomes a hero for jim crow people. to be sure. there are enough conservative things within lincoln himself that's why i said that song was a little edgy. there were enough conservative things that conservatives could later grab onto and say look at this. the hutchinson singers were trying to push him because i'm
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only saying as a tame version of that song, there were really radical versions of that song that was really abolitionist. you can find miserable versions of how the slaves are -- they are absolutely trying to push him that way. push his image, rather. they could not influence him. >> does that imply that lincoln in life could not have created that national identity you talked about? david: could you ask the question again? >> the implication that lincoln had to die to create this national identity in light with
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his program -- david: i don't think even walt whitman believe that. he called lincoln a kind of cement. he really did strengthen the sense of the nation. before the civil war, united states was a floral world and afterwards it was singular. it was largely because of his example. i mentioned some of the negatives, but there's so much patriotism on his behalf. james mcpherson is right when he says the northern view one in spite of later jim crow. ultimately, the lincoln view wins.
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i like to think if he had lived he still would have been quite effective even though he was charitable of his feelings toward the south. i think he would have grown as he did grow during the war. maybe others would just say he is a conservative. how do others feel about that issue? what would have happened if he lived? i hate to call death the icing on the cake, obviously death is much deeper than that. it kind of enhanced his ability to create the nation. maybe we would have been better off in the end if he had lasted three more years. certainly andrew johnson, his successor, was fairly inept about government reconstruction.
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>> [inaudible] do you feel johnson destroyed radical reconstruction? he was a drunk and inapt president. he was responsible for erasing a lot of the pattern lincoln had already set. david: i dig is fairly widely agreed and i certainly agree andrew johnson was ultimately a very negative force. certain strides have been made early in reconstruction to carry on lincoln's legacy, johnson quickly snuffed a lot of those out. people lost heart as well and reconstruction quickly tumbles
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toward jim crow and did not take that long. it was really under johnson that began. absolutely. >> you mentioned booth had many opportunities to actually assess the lincoln. do you think that because he was an incredible actor that he chose the theater to commit this final dramatic act and create the most dramatic spectacle which meant he was actually an actor along with the president so that he in the end would create an incredible thing even that he's a fantastic actor and
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is quite famous. david: not only that, but before he killed lincoln in the theater, he had a very elaborate plot of kidnapping lincoln by kidnapping one person and grabbing lincoln and if you can imagine lowering lincoln down to a waiting conspirator on the side of the stage. can you imagine lincoln dangling in the air? he was obsessed by the theater. his greatest role, really. he kept visiting the theater and went to grovers theater which was another big theater. can you invite him to the theater? he was totally obsessed by it. the theater was very important.
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>> we have colleagues who construe lincoln as a political philosopher. is david reynolds lincoln a political philosopher or is he a politician with human insights? david: good question. there's a whole school -- i do think lincoln his philosophy came through his language in the way he expresses himself but his political philosophy is one is extremely moral and ethical but also somehow ambiguous. i disagree -- john burke says in
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the second inaugural, meaning disappears completely and all we have is indeterminacy in ambiguity. i don't think he revels in ambiguity the way hawthorne does. i disagree with that, but i think he does know about uncertainty. then you avoid -- ambiguity combined with a sense of vision and morality and ethics, that's very hard to achieve for a politician and political leaders. it got us into a lot of danger in the 20th century and 21st century because people don't generally have that kind of vision. any other questions?
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>> what became of the booth emily acting careers? >> admin booth actually became superduper famous. admin booth was -- admin -- ed mund booth, he was really great. i think was a much better actor than john wilkes booth. others in the family trickled out, he owned any theaters he was a manager and actor and he was really great. he was never very proud of his brother at all and they disagreed so radically as his
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sister asia loved john wilkes booth so much. she wrote a defensive memoir and always loved john wilkes booth more than anybody. any other questions which philip? >> frederick douglass interest me in his relationship to lincoln which evolved tremendously beginning as quite a critic. becoming critical during what he
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considered the slowness of the administration to act against slavery. a president meeting with an african-american advisor to talk about slavery. douglas himself comes away more increasingly impressed with the authenticity and honesty and anti-slavery stance of the president. his reaction to the assassination -- i know he goes on to give a talk in rochester in which he says lincoln was the black man's president. we remember a later speech in which he says he was nothing but the white persons resident. -- white persons president.
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i'm reiterating some of the points which is there's a great distance between 1865 and 1876 and a different path for a man like douglas in the first year than the last. david: there are a lot of people who really change their opinions of lincoln but when he meets lincoln, he feels them utter lack personally as does -- as does sojourner truth and meets lincoln in the white house. douglas and many other people go through a journey to be sure. >> isn't it rather confusing that frederick douglas road
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three autobiographies, each adopting the social climate of what the time was so a music research -- a researcher trying to write on frederick douglas doesn't really know which of the three is the truth or if they are all truth for their time? in other words, whether he bought a slave or whether he ran away or if they paid for him to be a free man, each one is different, what is your stance? >> it's partly a memory of confabulation and distortion. at the time you experience it,
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that is part of it. frederick douglas 'autobiographies are each different from each other and you have to reconstruct the public history malia and that. all of these different kinds of changes, it is really weird. it almost becomes a developing fiction or fictional autobiography. >> i'm curious how much the conspirator was developed with the forethought or how much was out talkers? had they succeeded, unless i'm confused, they would have made president edwin stanton.
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if you had picked one person in the confederate, you would not want to be president of the united states and was far harsher toward the south then lincoln and johnson. to what degree do you think we should think of this as a truly organized conspiracy and to what degree was a bunch of loud drunks? david: a lot of it was impromptu and kind of of the moment, but from the fall of robert e lee afterwards, they had not really thought of the succession. he was tougher on slavery than lincoln. like john brown who wanted to create chaos in the south, whose thought he would create real mayhem no matter who succeeded. somehow in his mind he did not think deeply about it.
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you are right -- when you wonder about these things being thought out i don't think it were rational about it. particularly about lowering lincoln in the theater on the rope -- seriously for a while -- it's ridiculous. anyway, i don't think it was particularly well conceived or well thought out. >> may i ask a follow-up to that question about succession from a slightly different angle? i think the reasons for lincoln selecting andrew johnson as his running mate in 1860 or are pretty well known. the political reasons. tennessee, unionists, etc.. given he was such a reactionary force during the deconstruction
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area -- deconstruction europe, did he contemplate his own mortality? no president had been assassinated before him, but to within the last 20 years and died. obviously, lifespans were shorter back then. do you think he thought through the implications of what happened if he did not complete his second term and the implications of johnson becoming the second president? >> i don't think johnson was a good choice. the border states like tennessee, kentucky and maryland. in the fall of 1864, it started to go well. the idea to get some southern person there -- i don't think it was very well thought out.
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the andrew johnson choice -- i think it was geographical. andrew johnson was even drunk at lincoln pause inauguration. he could barely talk. i believe in liberty -- he was drunk at his own swearing-in. the question is about mortality. gave money -- it's tiny -- it's funny. we don't know how much he thought about his own or talladega other than to say maybe someday i would be
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assessed native stop maybe he should have been more responsible about that. someday i would be assassinated. one criticism you could make is if you really believed in his own mortality, i think he did write by making simon chase, his enemy, the chief justice. he made some good appointments as well, that i agree totally that he should have been a little more responsible about that particular choice. >> on the subject of presidential succession, does the go president, vice president , is because of the house, than to cabinet? david: that is later. anymore questions or comments
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work --? we do have a nice reception after this with some cocktails and food and everything. i'm hoping you will stick around . thank you all for coming. maybe let's watch c-span later on. it is a 24 hour celebration. you will see some of these places like ford's theater and so forth. thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> you are watching american history


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